The Waking

The Waking

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.

We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Of those so close beside me, which are you?
God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.

Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me; so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.

THEODORE ROETHKE

Source: The Collected Poems of Theodore Roethke (Doubleday, 1961)

From Poetry Foundation website

“The Waking (1954)” This book of Roethke won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, and has long since been considered one of the most important books of contemporary American poetry. The title poem, “The Waking,” has been one of the most anthologized American poems of the 20th-century..


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